Lesson Plans

Each lesson plan contains an ‘Instructor Guide’ which outlines the materials needed for each activity. Lesson plans have been designed for use with items commonly found at home.

Plastic Cycle

Understanding the plastic cycle (i.e., how plastic is made, how it is used, and where it goes when we throw it “away”) is important to comprehend how we have reached unsustainable levels of plastic production and plastic pollution. This lesson will introduce participants to what the definition of “plastic” is, teach them about the plastic lifecycle, and introduce the concept of a circular economy.

Watersheds & Their Relationship to Litter

Learning about watersheds is important in order to understand how waterways are connected and why our interactions play a larger impact on an ecosystem. Participants will be shown a visual representation of a watershed and have a chance to visualize different sources of plastic pollution in aquatic ecosystems. Finally, participants will be asked to consider their own watershed and what sources of local pollution may exist.

Impacts of Plastic on Ecosystems

Plastic pollution in the environment is not only ugly to look at but has the potential to impact ecosystems in many harmful ways. This lesson introduces the impacts of plastic pollution on ecosystems while inspiring action to create solutions. Participants will participate in activities to understand the impacts of entanglement and ingestion on wildlife, with a focus on animal species found in the Great Lakes ecosystems.

Solutions to Plastic Pollution

Plastic is found nearly everywhere in our environment and will become an even larger problem if we don’t develop new solutions to reduce its impact. This lesson will introduce participants to the concept of a Solutions Hierarchy as they learn about approaches to plastic pollution solutions, and an introduction to the different levels that action on plastic pollution can happen and the groups involved (individual, communities, government, companies). The lesson will also engage participants in a creative exercise to identify and develop a solution relevant in their own lives.

Interactive activities


These lessons were created with the help of many volunteers.

Plastic Cycle: Clara Thaysen, Ludovic Hermabessiere, Tina Wu
Watersheds & Their Relationship to Litter: Bonnie Hamilton, Hayley McIlwraith, Rachel Giles
Impacts of Plastic on Ecosystems: Kennedy Bucci, Lisa Erdle, Sam Athey
Solutions to Plastic Pollution: Alice (Xia) Zhu, Arielle Earn

Editors: Alishba Afaq, Arielle Earn, Anthony Carrozzi, Cassandra Sherlock and Hayley McIlwraith.

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